How to grow…2019 edition: Part 1

We mentioned a couple of weeks ago: Self awareness is really important but it’s also very difficult. Why is it so difficult? In a preaching class in seminary I was required to preach a sermon in front of an audience. video tape it, watch the tape and make comments. I didn’t enjoy that. I didn’t want to hear my voice, I didn’t want to see my face, every cell in my body cringed just at the thought of it. You can probably understand or relate to how I felt, but let’s think about why: why wouldn’t I want to hear myself or see myself when that is what everyone else is hearing and seeing? I think what this meant was: I was fine with the stupid things I said and the stupid things I did…as long as I was unaware of them. It was like a conspiracy between my id and ego, “I’ll let you do your thing and look the other way, just make sure it doesn’t come back to haunt me.”

You might not do much public speaking, but if you can relate I think it’s because this is a part of our shared broken/fallen human condition. In James 1:23, the writer says God’s Word is like a mirror that shows us who we are, what we really look like, but the problem is we tend to look at the mirror and then promptly walk away and forget what we looked like. How come, what does the mirror show us?

Here’s the reason why self-awareness is so difficult:

When you truly see yourself, according to the Bible, you will see that you are not a good person.

We go through life with the polite fiction that we are all good and decent people, but the truth is that we are not… The puritan preacher in me makes me want to expand on that, but I won’t… the point is not to make you feel guilty.  More on that in a moment. …And so we take one look at ourselves in the mirror, cringe, and put the video away, shut it out of our minds…make a deal with our ego “I won’t bring this up so let’s pretend like this didn’t happen.” If some comes up to us with a camera or a mirror we yell at them to put it down; we hate those who remind us of our ugliness and flaws.

But God’s purpose is not to make us feel bad. The purpose of seeing ourselves is so that we can fix things, wash the bbq sauce off my cheek, the schmoo out of my eye, comb my hair. We use mirrors to show our flaws, not because we like our flaws, but because we dislike walking around with food in our hair enough that we are willing to look in the mirror and tidy up before we leave home. What this means is, as cringe as it may be to truly see ourselves, we have to hate sin more than we hate being humbled. We need to hate pride and how that looks on us more than we hate being caught in it. We need to hate faking, the feeling of faking, the smell of faking more than the embarrassment of catching ourselves faking.

The Gospel (lit. “good news”) is that we are broken and dirty, but God loves us; and as we admit we are broken and dirty he fixes and washes us clean.

The Christian understanding is that all of God’s life creating, world forming, sick person healing, power… the power with which Jesus died for Sins and came back to life – this power is now available to you to clean anything and to change anything to make it better. No, not just better, but GLORY-ous. But the only thing that could prevent that great loving power of God from helping you is…if you didn’t think you needed it. Because you were too caught up in the polite fiction that you are a decent person who just needs a little break now and then. The Bible says you are not a decent person, you are a sinner, and a traitor, and a fake, wander from God habitually… But God loves you, and just the way shepherds did in the old days, He brings you back and gives you what you need. If you’ve read this far, what you need now is to become self aware.

By the way it’s not all bad. After you get over the shock and embarrassment of seeing you as you are, and as you process things like Jesus’ forgiveness, God’s love, you will start to see things through His eyes. What’s that? Like a proud daddy looking at his beautiful baby, standing, taking a step, falling, getting cracky, spitting up food, knocking things over, mispronouncing the simplest words… He adores you. And that poo on your face and on the wall that made him gasp with disgust will be something to laugh about once you’re cleaned off. Because past all the dirty bits and broken parts of you, there is YOU. And you are unique. There is literally no one else in all of time who has the same combination of perspectives and abilities and experiences as you. So as God wipes you off, He’s looking at that. Then…it feels good to see yourself. So wipe off the dirt, fix the stupid stuff, and let’s get on with the business of growing.